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Cub Country: SLC Punk

story by tim mcmahan



Lazy-i: Dec.1, 2004

Cub Country
w/Austin Britton
Dec. 6, 9:30 p.m.
1322 So. Saddle Creek Rd.

Cub Country's Jeremy Chatelain knows a thing or two about breaking from convention; he's done it all his life.

Before fronting his current band of laidback, urban folkies, Chatelain was in one the decade's more successful indie bands as well as a nationally known hardcore punk band.

Getting involved in the punk scene during his teen years took a little more rebellion than most, thanks to being raised in Salt Lake City as a Mormon.

"I lived there until I was 23," Chatelain said from the living room of his new home in Chapel Hill, N.C. "It definitely had an effect on my music and lyrics. Salt Lake City is the same as any small to medium-sized city -- it can be bleak at times, and there was a cultural vacuum there."




But it was being raised Mormon that had a bigger influence on Chatelain's life. "Punk rock was a completely alien thing to me," he said. "No one in my school was punk. When I was in seventh grade, there was a kid who came by my school to visit his girlfriend. He had a Mohawk and drove a Vespa and I was fascinated by him. Then a friend of mine got a copy of a Sex Pistols record and I was transfixed; I couldn't stop thinking about it. Punk was a way to leave Salt Lake without having to travel."

Before long, Chatelain was skateboarding and collecting 7-inch vinyl. "It was like the sun had shown down on me and I found something no one else knew about. It took a long time for my parents to become supportive."

Imagine their concern when Chatelain joined a number of hardcore bands before becoming a member of influential '90s metal-core outfit Handsome. Touring with that band would eventually bring him to New York City at the tender age of 17. Chatelain would move there six years later. "I didn't realize until I lived in New York for years what drew me there," he said. "People suffocated artistically and in other ways in Salt Lake City. I needed a kick in the ass."

It was in New York toward the end of Handsome that Chatelain bumped into ex-Jawbreaker Blake Schwarzenbach. Along with ex-Texas Is the Reason drummer Chris Daly, the trio formed Jets to Brazil and released three successful albums on Jade Tree Records. Throughout those years, Chatelain also had begun working on the music that would become Cub Country.

"I had an acoustic guitar that had been gathering dust for years and got inspired to write some songs," he said. "I bought a little recording system and started tracking things, and it just sort of came together."

It wasn't until 2002 that Cub Country became a serious venture when Jade Tree released High Uinta High, a stark, personal alt-country collection that included contributions from a number of his friends in the punk community.







"Punk was a way to leave Salt Lake without having to travel."





"I would be part of Jets again, though. We were together for seven years...I loved it."



Now with the just-released Stay Poor, Stay Happy on the more singer-songwriter friendly Future Farmer Records, Chatelain is doing Cub Country full time. The 10-song collection of twangy, alt-folk ballads recalls the dusty bleakness of Chatelain's Utah roots. "That was part of growing up that I took for granted until I lived in New York for six years," he said. "In Salt Lake, you can be in a canyon and in the middle of wilderness in three minutes. None of that affected my music until I started this band."

He said he's still adjusting to being the frontman after years as a support player in other bands. "I realize I must be a Type B personality," Chatelain said. "It's tough to take the reigns and be the captain of the ship. Making decisions is my weak point. But artistically, being the boss allows me to write the songs and make sure the records are just right. I'm really happy."

Still, he's not slamming the door on Jets to Brazil, though a reunion seems unlikely. These days Schwarzenbach makes a living teaching, and guitarist Brian Maryansky has gone back to school. "It made sense. Everyone's in their 30s," Chatelain said of the breakup. "I would be part of Jets again, though. We were together for seven years. Sometimes people work it out, sometimes they don't. I loved it."

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Published in The Omaha Reader Dec, 1, 2004. Copyright 2004 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.